Between a Brothel and a War Zone

I remember as a kid at the jungle gym playing around on the monkey bars. Unlike most kids however, instead of hanging from the poles the conventional way, I remember climbing to the top and practicing my gymnastics beam routine from the wooden slats. With highly unfortunate dreams of becoming an Olympic gymnast, (definitely not my calling) I was used to trying “daredevil moves” many times with the help of my older sister, and many times, losing my step and crashing to the ground. This time was no exception.

Falling from the height of the bars I landed flat on my stomach and had the wind knocked out from my core.

Unsuccessfully gasping for air, it was the first time I remember that feeling lasting for so long. Then finally, as I began to relax, my body re-aligned itself and I found my first breaths.

Now here I sit at a coffee shop in Nairobi. I have 3 days. Three. To fully relax and catch my breath before heading into a war zone.

I’m on the home stretch of a crazy 12 months. A beautiful year September to September. But also a semi-sleepless year. A pioneering year. I know I’ve mentioned it before so this is the last time- promise, but a learning year. I know, many times when we talk about all the “life lessons” we learn, it’s like looking at the positive side of dirty cup of water. But I really believe it and am thankful for the moments I got to dig my roots in deeper to find water. (“Home Stretch” as in I’ll be taking a MASSIVE long weekend for the whole month of November, gearing up for some fun new things post-Christmas)

Looking back at this past season I am in awe.  I know, I know, last time- but to give you a small idea… at one point, in the middle of exhaustion, we had a robbery, mugging, sexual assault or break-in EVERY WEEK for over a month. It seemed like in our natural circumstances we moved from crisis to crisis. We claimed “glory to glory” knowing that usually, it’s an inside job first but it was bizarre. We prayed. We fasted. We cried and we eventually settled on rest. Trust. And let’s just be real, episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, sent all the way from America… :)

Sure enough, as the saying goes “this too shall pass,” and it is… Papa God is the most faithful he could ever be. Sweet to be strong when I am not, and give hope when my vision is too narrow to see it for myself. As I type it’s September 13th. Yom Kippur on the Jewish New Year and while sipping my usual BIG FAT chai latte, I dream for the future.

Going into Congo our plan is “Education month”. Pretty much. Our vision is to start the week off by setting up our children’s library! One of Goma’s first to grace the city!

We’re expanding classrooms, finishing painting, completing desks (which we are still in need of 15 desks @ $60/a pop if you’d like to donate!)

We’re educating hundreds of kids in some of the toughest regions, constantly fighting the cycle of active conflict and we’re excited. By educating these kids, we (YOU) are providing children with the safest option for their future.

You’re lowering rape statistics for every girl in the classroom.

You’re increasing the days each boy goes without a gun in his hands, AND you’re pouring into the future of generations to come as you educate kids for a future, hopefully without war.

Like I said, we’re excited.


After my time in Congo I’m planning my time back in the west for a bit! It will be great. I am excited, to say the least, for the last chapter of 2013.

Until then… here are a few highlights I’m looking forward to over the next few months.


Seeing our Freedom Boys!!

Hearing the testimonies of life from during the last conflict outbreaks

Seeing my puppies (I may or may not have 5 dogs in Congo. I love puppies)

Catch up with my staff about their 2-week adventures in Mozambique (we bused them over for the Iris Global Team Meetings)

Hugging our Freedom Boys

Rubbing the very pregnant belly of one of our head of staff’s wife

PAINTING our schools! (the fun part of construction)

Planting flowers (the fun part of “agriculture”)

Chatting with our Freedom Boys

Family worship nights with my team

Launching our library

New teammates

“Homegroup” in the bush bush. My newest favorite thing.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

                                                And then…. Hot showers everyday

                                                No more bed bugs

                                                No more parasites

                                                No more stomach infections


                                                Catching up with friends

                                                Loving my sweet nieces and nephew


                                                Comforting my mom (I’m still alive!)

                                                Breakfast at my housemate’s massive dining room table

                                                Eating in general

                                                Etc. Etc. Etc.



In the midst of the last few months, I’ve said it before but I will say it again—I am SO thankful for the overflowing handfuls of beautiful friends and family who have stood with me in every capacity. I could not be more honored to have such great community around me!

Annnnd I can’t wait to update everyone on the fun progress to be had while I’m in Congo! Hopefully I will get the occasional Internet slot to fill you in on the beautiful developments!